What do employers fear most when hiring someone?
One of the biggest fears is making a mistake by hiring the wrong person. Employers invest a lot of time and money in the interview process. An employer assumes the way the person is in an interview is the way he or she will be on the job, but sometimes it is not how that person shows up once hired. The last thing an employer wants is to hire someone, invest in training that person, and see that person fail.
What is the biggest frustration employers have with younger employees in general?
Their impatience; too few people are willing to pay their dues. They want to start out where they want to end up.
How prepared are young adults entering the workplace?
In some ways they are more prepared than previous generations: They are technologically savvy, knowledgeable and resourceful. They’ve faced fierce competition in gaining admission into the college of their choice and have worked hard to achieve academic success. However, many young adults are lacking the basic skills and knowledge we assume they have mastered. They have grown up with parents who are struggling to manage their own busy lives; school counselors and teachers working at maximum capacity.
A job seeker may look good on paper, but when that person lacks the confidence to look an interviewer in the eye, the common sense to turn off the cell phone during a meeting or the decency to handwrite a thank you note after an interview, even the most impressive credentials may not be enough.
How do most grads manage the transition from student to full-time employment?
For many, the transition is more difficult than expected. Even those with previous work experience are surprised to discover how confining—and exhausting—a full time job can be. Used to having what they want when they want it, once on their own, many find it difficult to cover expenses, which are higher than expected. For a generation used to managing their schedules and staying “connected” at all times, it’s difficult disconnecting, especially at work. One of the biggest surprises (and complaints) I hear from young adults is the lack of personal time.
What’s the most important advice you have for new grads and other job seekers?
Be willing to start at the bottom: Identify your ideal job, but be realistic; know what you’re striving for and what you will settle for. Some of the most successful people have risen to the top one step at a time and you can too. Be willing—and expect to work your way up.
Get a makeover. If you look like a student, you don’t look like the professional you are trying to be. Invest in a great interview suit, professional looking shoes and briefcase. Update your hairstyle, change your make up; shave. When applying for a job, image really is everything.
Change your email habits: Little things make a big difference. Sending an email from ‘partygirl’ or ‘eyemhot’ to a potential employer sends the wrong message. So does using smiley faces and other emoticons. You may be used to writing in caps, using abbreviations and sending messages without proofing first, but it’s a big risk when you’re trying to impress a potential employer.
Treat looking for a job like a job. Even if you are unemployed you have a job: Your job is to find a job. Get up, get dressed and get going each day as you would if you were already working. This will help you get in the right mindset. The more time you devote to your job search the greater the likelihood you will get the results you seek.
Create a plan. You can’t get where you want if you don’t know where you are going. Decide what you want to do and identify your ideal job, but be realistic; know what you’re striving for and what you will settle for. Then create an action plan. Set reasonable and realistic goals and a time frame in which you will accomplish them
Practice interviewing. The more prepared you are the less stressful an interview will be. Anticipate questions you are likely to be asked and practice saying your responses. Conduct mock interviews to get valuable feedback; better yet, watch or listen to yourself on tape. Don’t wait until the night before the interview—practice a little bit every day.
Be patient. “Patience is a virtue" -- especially as it relates to finding the ideal job, or awaiting promotions and pay increases. Like Rome, your career won't be built in a day! Everything takes time, persistence, a game plan, a belief in oneself and the right attitude.
What are some easy, yet overlooked things job seekers can do?
Use business cards. Create business cards to hand out to everyone—even those you think can’t help you. Finding a job is all about networking and the more people you involve the better. Make it easy for others to help you, remember you, and contact you by giving them your business card.
Request informational interviews. Informational interviews are a great way to learn about an industry, a company, or a job. An informational interview is not a job interview. It’s simply asking someone in a position, industry, or company of interest to you to spend a few minutes talking with you. It is one of the best ways to learn and a great way to make valuable new contacts.
Get an internship. Internships are a great way to get the experience you’re lacking. Look for opportunities to get your foot in the door and gain experience any way you can. Although most internships are short term, many end up leading to long-term employment and other opportunities.
Ask for help. Most people are flattered, not bothered, when asked for advice and happy to help you out. Contact relatives, neighbors, friends, parents of friends, college alumni, etc. It’s the best way to get leads and stay connected.
Maximize your value. You have more to offer than you realize. Even if you lack relevant job experience you are not as inexperienced as you think. Don’t overlook skills acquired through participation in extracurricular activities, volunteering, and other, unrelated jobs held. Evaluate all of your skills, accomplishments and experiences to better communicate your value.
How long is the average job search?
The time it takes to find a job can take anywhere from a few months to many months—for some it can take up to a year. Those who want to shorten the duration must devote ample time to their search.
The more focused someone is the easier the job search will be. However, it is through the job search that many people discover all that is out there, and begin to more clearly define what they want.
What can parents do to help their son/daughter improve chances for getting work?
Talk to your child about his or her concerns. Initiate conversations; ask how you can be of help. Even children who’ve resisted your help before may be open to it now. Looking for work can be an isolating and frightening experience.
Share your personal experiences. Graduates are entering unfamiliar territory and can benefit from your experience. Talk to your child about the things you’ve learned over the years and what you would do differently if you could.
Reinforce the importance of things not taught in school. Remind your child about the importance of his or her appearance, professional behavior and good manners. Go out to eat for a refresher course in table manners.
Go shopping. Take your son or daughter shopping and help select a great looking interview suit. Better yet, offer to pay for it. Nothing boosts confidence more or creates a better impression than the person who looks and feels ready for work.
Be supportive. Listen, encourage, and understand; do everything you can to offer your encouragement and support. When possible, utilize your own contacts and resources to help your child.
What advice can you give to those starting out who don't know exactly what kind of career they're looking for?
You are not alone. Few people are certain about what they want to do when starting out. Don’t worry about finding the perfect job; few jobs are ideal. I never could have predicted what I’d end up doing when I started out; my career has evolved over the years and is the result of every experience I’ve had along the way. Everything takes time; your career is no different.
What’s the most important advice you have for new grads and job seekers?
Never give up. It doesn’t matter who you’ve been; the future is about who you become. Dare to dream. The only dream that will never come true is the one you give up on or fail to pursue.